Charleston Port’s Growth Puts it on Top 10 List

The Port of Charleston ranks as the U.S.’s eighth-largest maritime hub.

According to the Post and Courier, the local waterfront handled 2.8 million shipping containers measured in 20-foot increments last year, moving it ahead of the Port of Oakland for the No. 8 spot on the nation’s top 10 list, according to figures released this week by the State Ports Authority.

Oakland, with 2.4 million containers, slipped to No. 9, just ahead of the Port of Jacksonville in Florida.

Charleston has doubled the number of cargo boxes it handles since 2011, giving it an annual growth rate of 6.58 percent. The growth rate was nearly double the national average and outpaced every other top 10 port during the period, with Savannah coming in second with a 6.44 percent annual growth rate.

“The East Coast and Gulf Coast ports are where the growth has been in the last 11 years,” said Jim Newsome, the SPA’s president and CEO. All of the ports that posted annual gains of at least 5 percent are within those two geographic areas.

“The top U.S. ports are getting larger and we expect that to continue just in view of the magnitude of the investment required” to handle big ships sailing from Asia, Newsome said. He said the top 10 ports are now handling 85 percent of all containerized cargo moving to and from the country — up from 80 percent a few years ago.

The port was once ranked much higher but has remained within the top 10. For instance, it was No. 4 in the country in 2002 before losing ground the following year, first to Savannah.

California’s top ports remained the nation’s largest in 2021, with Los Angeles handling 10.7 million containers and Long Beach moving 9.4 million through its terminals.

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